House Republican leaders on Friday unveiled their “Commitment to America” agenda for 2023 ― and with it, an inspirational video chock full of scenes presented as exceptional imagery of America but that are actually stock footage from Russia and Ukraine.
The GOP’s video, “The Preamble to the Commitment to America,” opens with a narrator highlighting aspects of what it means to be an American.
“We celebrate the rich heritage of the American story and the vibrancy of the American Dream,” the voice says, over footage of a drilling rig at sunrise.
But this video snippet, an apparent nod to America’s natural resources, wasn’t even filmed in America. It’s stock footage created by Serg Grbanoff, a filmmaker based in Russia.
Grbanoff told HuffPost that he filmed this scene in Russia’s Volgograd region. Here’s a screenshot of the image in the House Republican leaders’ video, versus an original shot on Shutterstock’s website:
It’s not the only instance where Grbanoff’s work appears in the GOP’s video celebrating America.
In another scene, a boy is seen smiling and running in a field with a toy airplane. The words “Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” appear on the screen, a reference to the Declaration of Independence.
This clip was also created by Grbanoff, and also filmed in the Volgograd region of Russia. Here’s a screenshot of the image in the GOP’s video versus an original shot on Shutterstock’s website:
At another point in the video, Republicans take a shot at Democrats on the economy.
“Democrats have led America off track,” the narrator says. The words “Crippling inflation and rampant crime” appear on the screen, over a shot of a woman walking through a grocery store.
But this is footage from a European grocery store. If you look closely at the screenshot, you can see a tag hanging on one of the store shelves that says “AKCIA,” a Slovak word meaning “action.” Informally, “AKCIA” is used to designate sales in Slovakian stores.
House Republicans almost certainly used imagery from Ukraine in their video about America, too.
The video includes a clip of a farmer carrying a bag on his shoulder in a field of corn, as the words “And the vibrancy of the American Dream” appear on the screen.
This is also stock footage sourced from a Shutterstock contributor, DedovStock. The man featured in the clip works for DedovStock, and has a page of his work on its website. His page features shots of him in Ukraine and the Carpathian Mountains, which stretch through Ukraine and parts of Eastern Europe.
HuffPost reached out to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for comment on why GOP leaders rolled out their plan for America with a video featuring stock footage from Russia.
“Interesting how you guys aren’t remotely interested on the issues facing the American people in the video,” responded McCarthy spokesman Mark Bednar.